City of Heroes &City of Villains - Guide to the Controller Archetype

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What is the role of the City of Heroes Controller?

The official description of the Controller is:

The Controller is at the same time the weakest and yet the most powerful of the archetypes. The Controller has few offensive attacks and possesses the fewest hit points. But the Controller has access to a range of powers that no one else has: the Control power sets. Armed with these powers, a Controller can affect the behavior of villains - from freezing them in place to routing them away. Armed with such abilities, the Controller is the backbone of many groups involved in large-scale battles - but the Controller depends upon his teammates for protection.

What Primary Powersets Are Available To Controllers?

For City of Heroes Controllers, the primary powerset is the main crowd control set. The primary sets also tend to have a pet which eventually gives controllers some noticeable offense.

Earth Control - Considered by many to be best or second best (after ice) at pure control, this set focusses on holds and immobilizations.

Fire Control - This is one of the more offense oriented control sets for Controllers. The Fire Imp pets deal excellent damage, and most of the various holds and disorients also tick fire DoT damage.

Gravity Control - This very amusing set tosses foes around and picks them up as if they were rag dolls.

Ice Control - This is considered best or second best (after earth) at pure control. Ice Slick is the set defining power. You drop the slick and laugh as your foes slip and fall repeatedly.

Illusion Control - This is one of the more offensive oriented controller sets. It focusses on summoning a lot of “pets” who deal damage and hold the attention of foes.

Mind Control - This set has some exotic types of control - sleeps, fears, confuses. These are very good in PvP.

Plant Control - The newest controller set, plant control has numerous ways to impair and impede your opponents.

What Secondary Powersets Are Available to Controllers?

Controller secondaries provide a variety of different support powers. They are similar to defender primaries but tend to have slightly lower effect values.

Empathy - This is the primary healing type set. It also has one of the best buffs in the entire game: Fortitude. The regeneration and recovery auras buff the whole group giving them excellent health and endurance recovery rates.

Force Field - This set focusses on protecting the entire team with defense based shields. This set also provides status protection to the controller and the controller’s team.

Kinetics - This is the most purely offensive based set for the controller. It drains foes of their ability to deal damage while massively buffing the controller and its team. It can also boost speed, endurance regeneration, jump height, and more.

Radiation Emission - This is the best debuffing set in the game. Radiation can debuff regeneration, defense, to-hit, and damage resistance. When you can debuff these things, Arch Villains become significantly easier. A lot of end game content practically requires a radiation emission team member.

Sonic Resonance - This set is similar to force field but the “bubbles” protect via damage resistance rather than defense. This set also provides status protection to the controller and the controller’s team.

Storm Summoning - This offensive/PvP based set is popular among soloists and PvPers but it is not group friendly.

Thermal Radiation - This was originally a villain corruptor set but was recently given to controllers. It is a hybrid of sonic resonance and empathy/

Trick Arrow - This is the most unique of the controller sets. It has a variety of debuffs that take a good deal of practice to use effectively.


Michael Hartman maintains a hub for articles about City of Heroes and City of Villains. If you would like to read more of his articles about this game, visit:

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